According to the latest census data, almost one-third of all children are living with a single or unmarried parent. If you and your child also fall under this umbrella, you might need a little help in navigating the storm. Here are just a few tips for creating a happy and healthy family unit as a single parent.
Take Time for Yourself
Self-care is often neglected by single parents who devote all of their time and energy towards raising their kids. However, being the best parent also requires you to be the best version of yourself. If you’re constantly tired, stressed and overworked, you aren’t going to be in the right head space to take care of your little ones. Try to make some time for yourself to keep both your mind and body at 100 percent.
Talk to Your Kids
Keep an open line of communication with your children. Let them come to you with questions and concerns about their new living situation, and don’t shy away from discussing things like dad’s new girlfriend or why mom can’t afford those new sneakers right now. You’ll want your child to have an honest but age-appropriate understanding of their circumstances, and that means answering questions instead of letting them form their own opinions based on gossip.
Create a Support System
Accidents happen. Scheduling conflicts happen. You never know when you might need someone to watch the kids during an unexpected emergency, so it pays to have a support network that you can trust. It doesn’t matter if it consists of friends, neighbors, colleagues, trusted babysitters or other single parents that you’ve met through support groups. As long as they have your back, they’re a good investment of energy.
This is especially important if you’re transitioning to a single-income household after a separation or divorce. You might find that it helps your budget to clip coupons, shop at discount stores or take advantage of “free days” at local museums and kid-friendly events. You might also want to contact a lawyer who specializes in family law to help you seek or obtain child support. If your ex isn’t making the payments, don’t hesitate to reach out to a legal professional. As the parent of your children, they have a responsibility to help out financially.
Being a single parent isn’t easy. You’ll face a lot of physical and emotional challenges that are unique to your family situation. At the end of the day, however, your child is worth the trouble, so focus on the things that matter and keep moving forward.